Beginning Concepts: Why do we do genealogy?

I’m starting a new series that will focus on some “beginning” or basic concepts of genealogical research. A bit of a reset, perhaps. This year has been one giant [insert your favorite expletive-driven description here.] I’m feeling the need to get back to some of the basics before we head into the holidays and 2021. I’m hoping for a refocus and a shift in my thinking after the utter [again, insert your favorite descriptor here… “crapfest” comes to my mind] this year has been.

So this new series will look at some of the basics, starting with, why do we even do this at all? There are spiritual, religious, emotional, and psychological reasons we might be engaged in this pastime:

  • Greater understanding of family stories brings empathy to living family members, perhaps emotional healing
  • Helps with loneliness and depression by filling you with a feeling of knowing your family members and ancestors loved you (even if indirectly)
  • It may help with that muddling-through-life feeling by understanding that our ancestors went through tough times too and survived. “I can DO this! It’s in my DNA!”
  • Provides us with wisdom and a broader perspective when we understand our ancestors in historical and social contexts
  • May experience “spiritual power” and serendipity while engaged in genealogy

“If you were to gather fifty genealogists in a room, chances are that forty-five of them would readily admit to having experienced a few unexplainable incidents in their search for roots.”

Megan Smolenyak, In Search of Our Ancestors

One of my favorite book series is Psychic Roots by Henry Z. Jones, Jr. which explores some of the anecdotal, serendipitous moments genealogists have experienced.

Has the genealogy “bug” bitten you? Have you thought about why? What benefits you may be getting from researching your ancestors? You might take a few moments to consider the WHY of your love/obsession with family history research. For some it may be as simple as finding the next piece of the puzzle. For others, it may take on a whole new dimension.

2 thoughts on “Beginning Concepts: Why do we do genealogy?

  1. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this article. I found Genealogy Pants linked to the GRIP website. Your article on registration for GRIP was wonderful. It was so full of information. I did not have the money to go to GRIP this year, which was fortunate in light of the pandemic. I will get there some day. I love your blog and I always read your articles. Thank you for all that you have done to help me get through this (insert expletive) year.

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